Cricket World Cup matchday 28: Babar Azam boosts Pakistan prospects
The race for the semi-finals looks like going all the way to the finish.
Pakistan kept their World Cup hopes alive to end New Zealand’s unbeaten record with a six-wicket win at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
New Zealand knew victory would secure a fourth successive World Cup semi-final appearance, but the Black Caps were unable to defend their total of 237 for six against revitalised opposition.
Babar Azam’s unbeaten 101 – the first World Cup century by a Pakistan player other than an opening batsman since 1987 – saw off New Zealand with five balls to spare.
Tweet of the day
Former Pakistan captain Wasim Akram believes his country are in with a shout of making the semi-finals.
There is some pretty stiff competition for who has got the noisiest backing at the 2019 World Cup. Bangladesh and India fans can both lay claim to that title, but Pakistan’s ‘green army’ took support to a different level as a raucous Edgbaston atmosphere made life difficult for New Zealand.
Quote of the day
I personally think we have to be very calm about how we approach the next couple of games because the games themselves might get quite emotional, especially with the atmosphere at Edgbaston Joe Root
England’s Joe Root on the need for cool heads in the crunch duel with India on Sunday
Stat will do
Haris Sohail played a vital supporting role to Azam and his straight six off Trent Boult with Pakistan chasing down victory was right out of the top drawer.
Spinning his web
Some wickets are celebrated more than others, and Kane Williamson’s is as treasured as much as anyone at this World Cup. Williamson was digging New Zealand out of another hole when Shadab Khan bamboozled him with a ball of prodigious turn that took the outside edge and gave wicketkeeper Sarfaraz Ahmed a catch behind.
What seemed a procession towards the semi-finals a week ago is now anything but. Successive England defeats have opened the door for Bangladesh, Pakistan or Sri Lanka to sneak into the final four. England’s last two games are against India and New Zealand and the race for a semi-final spot looks like going to the wire.
June 27: West Indies v India at Old Trafford